Management trends to watch for 2024 

Guest post by Dominic Ashley-Timms and Laura Ashley-Timms, who are the CEO and COO of performance consultancy Notion. 

The twenty-first century has given us a world of unprecedented opportunities. However, the pace of change, the volume of information, the speed with which we must adapt and the escalating array of technologies we’re dealing with can be overwhelming.

Management trends

Consequently, as managers and leaders, many of us are overloaded. Every day feels like a firefight, having to constantly reprioritise. Some of this results from companies removing expensive layers of management. This dismantling of formal hierarchies has saved costs, but it’s also reduced clarity around individual roles and resulted in many of us taking on additional responsibilities.

Here are 3 trends we expect to see in 2024 that will revolutionise management:

Mass investment in improving management

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) report, Better Management, revealed that a shocking 82% of managers are accidental, meaning that most UK managers are unleashed on teams without receiving ANY formal training to be competent in their new role. Without being fully equipped to handle the people side of their new responsibilities, these accidental managers can have a disastrous impact on employee engagement, productivity, performance and retention. It’s no wonder then that 31% of managers and 28% of workers have left a job to get away from a poor relationship with their manager.

In their report Great Job, the UK’s Confederation of British Industry (CBI) calculated that an improvement of just 7% in the quality of management would unlock an additional £110 billion to the UK economy. If we’re to move from the bottom of the G7 league for productivity measures and supercharge organisational performance, then 2024 needs to be the year of the manager, and massive investment is needed in new skills development.

A laser-focus on enhancing management communication skills

Effective communication skills couldn’t be more important for the working world in 2024. The previous year has seen the explosion of remote working practices, requiring organisations to explore more innovative ways of maintaining team cohesion and collaboration via video screens rather than in person. We also have five different generations in the workforce, each with its own expectations and what’s most important to them in their career choices and values.

Serving the needs of these different generations is challenging organisations and their leadership, training and HR practices. These major shifts in the modern workplace coupled with the use of new tools for collaboration necessitate that managers hone their communication skills. The key for managers to thrive in the future world of work is to learn how to become alert to opportunities where asking more powerful questions might drive better outcomes from a conversation with a team member.

Adopting the behaviours that support the asking of more powerful questions at the heart of an operation can also underpin a culture that’s more collaborative, inclusive and innovative with measurable improvements in engagement, productivity and performance.

Moving from Command-and-control to Enquiry-led

For managers to strengthen their communication skills and learn how to ask better questions in 2024, a fundamental shift in management practice will be required.

The prevailing management style in most organisations today is still best described as command-and-control. The leadership determines the strategy and issues directives, which are cascaded through various layers of management who direct the workforce to carry them out. However, this approach of fixing, firefighting and ‘telling’ employees how to solve the problems they bring you, inadvertently robs team members of a learning opportunity had they been encouraged to do the thinking themselves. Stemming the development of their independent problem-solving skills.

You’ve also taken time out of your own day by stepping into those problems and doing the doing instead of focusing on the higher-value aspects of your role. Instead of always reacting to situations and giving solutions, managers must learn to practise purposeful enquiry, weaving more powerful questions into day-to-day conversations with team members that better engage the talents around them.

This new Operational Coaching® style of management, proven to be effective in extended, government-backed research conducted by the London School of Economics (LSE), brings coaching into the flow of work. Often, it takes just a few moments but the effects can be profound: better solutions emerge, colleagues are invested in carrying out the actions they’ve committed to and by not stepping into every problem brought to us, we’ve saved valuable time as managers to plan and spend even more time coaching team members.

And, in a world where Scrum, with its emphasis on collaboration, transparency and continuous improvement, is a widely practised methodology, what might be the benefits of learning techniques for constructing powerful questions that spark team members to uncover hidden assumptions, propose creative solutions, and build deeper trust?

Dominic Ashley-Timms and Laura Ashley-Timms are the CEO and COO of performance consultancy Notion. They are the co-creators of the multi-award-winning STAR® Manager programme which is being adopted by managers in 40 countries. They are also co-authors of the management bestseller The Answer is a Question.

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